Grave of Abdus Salam - Click for larger View - See 'Muslim' sanded off
Photo Credit: Wiki
Theoretical physicist Abdus Salam was born in undivided India (Punjab, British Raj) in what is now called Pakistan. He received the country's only Nobel Prize in Physics in 1979 for his work in Electro-Weak Theory. Wikipedia notes that "Salam holds the distinction of being the first Pakistani and the first Muslim Nobel Laureate to receive the prize in the sciences," which is only half accurate. Har Gobind Khorana was also born in the Punjab, now Pakistan, received the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1968.
Before I continue, I would like to mention that Salam, the only Muslim to ever win a Nobel Prize in Physics, shared the Physics prize with Sheldon Glashow and Steven Weinberg, both of whom happen to be Jews [There are 48 Jews who won the Nobel Prize in Physics].
I view devout Muslims as a threat to modern civilization; however, even though Salam was a devout Muslim, he was a devout Physicist even more (1) and this I believe redeems him as a human being.
Sadly he was excommunicated in the 1970s from the country he loved because he was a member of an obscure sect called the Ahmadis. Some sources however maintain that Salam left Pakistan in protest after Pakistan's Parliament passed a bill (2) declaring the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community as Non-Muslims.
In spite of Pakistan's rejection he remained loyal to his country and worked tirelessly to promote science in the Islamic world. He lobbied Islamic nations to donate one per cent of their export earnings to help establish an international research center where scientists across the world would meet to exchange ideas and knowledge. While he was a genius in Physics, it takes no genius to know that this was a futile effort since Muslim nations, as I wrote in Oil Rich Muslims Are Science Poor, spend almost nothing on science.
Salam eventually got his international research center, not in Pakistan, but in Trieste, Italy.
Now comes the truly pitiful part of the story.
Wiki, Abdus Salam
Abdus Salam died in 1996 at the age of 70 in England after a long illness. His body was brought back to Pakistan and buried in Bahishti Maqbara, a cemetery established by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Rabwah, Pakistan next to his parents' graves.
The epitaph (see photo above) on his tomb initially read "First Muslim Nobel Laureate" but, because of Salam's adherence to the Ahmadiyya Muslim sect, the word "Muslim" was later erased on the orders of a local magistrate, leaving the nonsensical "First Nobel Laureate."
[redacted by Bernie]
I read once that nations which do not honor their great men cease to produce them. Such is the case with Pakistan and with all Muslim nations.
02 July 2008 - New Scientist,Review: Cosmic Anger by Gordon Fraser
Salam stands as the greatest physicist of the Islamic world for 1000 years. Not since the 11th-century polymath Ibn al-Haytham has there been a more influential figure in the field.
Salam's main devotion in life, however, was not to religion but to physics. His genius left its mark wherever he went: Cambridge, Princeton, Imperial College London and finally Trieste. The post-war decades saw tremendous advances in our understanding of the subatomic world. Together with Steven Weinberg and Sheldon Glashow, Salam created a theory that brought together the electromagnetic and weak nuclear forces, one of the most beautiful and powerful ideas in physics.
Wikipedia, Ordinance XX
According to this ordinance, Ahmadis are debarred from the use of any honorific titles and modes of address specific to the Prophetic community, from building mosques and calling the Adhan, from undertaking Muslim modes of worship, and from making any citations from the Qur'an and Muhammad's hadith. The Penal Code is adjusted to provide two years of imprisonment to anyone caught doing any of the above. According to the Ahmadi claims of state persecution, this ordinance criminalises the everyday life of Ahmadis. reciting the Kalima (Muslim creed) and greeting with peace in the Muslims way is a criminal offence for Ahmadis in Pakistan.